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On my last station of the trip, in Brussels, I met Karen Indesteege, a graphic designer who just graduated from university that day.
She took me to her diploma exhibition, which was dedicated to a very interesting topic: dementia and meditation.
In her work she accompanied an old woman for two years, who was diagnosed as demented and pulled herself back from the world around her, more and more. Karen had created a row of beautiful graphic works, showing a circle of dots and it’s transformation step by steps. The outside borders of the circle stood for the world around us, the people we meet, the situations we experience, the things we see. “Every dot stands for something”, Karen explained. On the inside, surrounded by the melee of dots, there was left out small space for the mind. At the beginning the mind is still connected to the outer ring: society, memories, relationships. But slowly it gets disconnected, the bridges start to shrink and the internal world takes more space until it is finally capturing the whole image.
Parallel to this visualization, Karen did a quite thought-provoking research work, which contained the thesis, that the disease dementia can also have advantages. The woman she watched through the years, fading, was traumatized and suffered from what she had lived, all of her life. Now the troubles and fears disappeared, just like any other memories and she became childlike again (not childish, as Karen noted.)
She dared to put the thought up for discussion, that dementia and the connection with the inner self, can also be seen as a process of healing in some ways.
“For us art is something very natural, just like the food we put on the table and the time we spend together.”
As it turned out, meditation is one of the things that not only Karen is interested in, but also her mother Javiera.
She suggested to let her take part in the domino-project, too and work together as a team. I thought it could add an interesting perspective to the project, little did I know how interesting it would become in the end, indeed!
“For us art is something very natural, just like the food we put on the table and the time we spend together.” Karen explained. Her whole family, brothers and sisters seem, to be artistically by nature.
So I was invited to their beautiful home in Brussels to spend a sunday afternoon, surrounded by a bunch of other family members, who were following their own creative calls.
“Life is about having fun and creating.”
Karens mother Javiera Jofré Gutiérrez is a multisided visual artist herself, just as the whole family seems to be. Although for other people it appears to be extraordinary, for them, creating is a part of everyday life.
“Life is about having fun and creating.” Karen would comment later.
Javiera tends to try out new things, whether in painting, prints, photomontage and cooperations with other artists and family members.
That’s, what she also did with her daughter. Together they experimented with filming the extraordinary expressions of Javieras meditation. As it turned out, she learned how to connect with herself and since some time she noticed that her body starts to move on its own, when she meditates. Starting with very subtile, small moves, she developed an intuitive kind of dance. “The movements she makes are very beautiful.” Karen told me. She recorded her mother dancing before. With her eyes closed and her mind free, she not only connects to herself but with other people and their emotions and situations.
As it seems, she has the ability to grasp other peoples feelings instinctively. She reacts on that with very strong emotions herself, that find expression in her mysterious dance.
I showed both of them the video of Rixta van der Molen from Amsterdam, who contributed a performance to domino. With a circling hoola hoop around her neck, she transmits a message, which can be rather interpreted as a warning. “Don’t dig too deep” she says, with a twitching voice.
Karen and her mother watched the video with all their attention and when it stopped, Javiera had tears in her eyes. Rixtas performance had made a big impression on her.
It was the strange sound of her voice and the negative words, that reached Javiera in a moment when she fully opened up for receiving the artwork.
She got touched by someone else’s work, like I hadn’t seen it before during the project.
So we came up with the idea of using those strong emotions and process them in one of her meditation dances. Now, working as a team, Karen and Javiera discussed on what part of the video should lie the focus after all. Whether to work with the association with space and the movement of the orbit, or to go for that indeterminable emotion, the video had triggered.
It was clear, that they would also do a video work, so we made some space in the garden.
Javiera told me the story of how she discovered that she could sense things differently. The spirituality of Javiera and Karen is not be understood as religion or superstition, more in a philosophical, metaphysical way. I was happy to share the stories of the people I met before, like Muha Nad and Rixta from Amsterdam, who were both occupied with philosophical questions about the earth, space and earth.
I told them also the ideas behind Rixtas performance. The warning that she uttered, was meant ironically. The phrase “don’t dig too deep” was addressed to people, who dig too deep in the matter of things and think too much. Of course she wouldn’t speak out that warning to anybody, for she was a thinker herself somehow. But Javiera didn’t get hooked with that story. She was very much focussed on the emotions she had received from Rixta. The voice had sounded so disturbing and broken, as if she was holding back something. Combined with the message, Javiera felt there was something wrong, she had to solve.
She started preparing for her dance, closed her eyes and did some warm up moves. She breathed in and out consciously and focussed on the feeling she got from the video. Her arms got guided through the air like a feather in the wind.
At some point I felt she was gone, gone into her inner self, as she called it. Karen quickly set up the camera and started to film.
The next five minutes, we were completely silent. Javiera began the dance with the delicate moves of her hands and went through different, strong expressions on her face. First, she expressed struggle, as if something had to be set free, had to be pulled out of herself. Later her moves became graceful and fluent. At some point she circled around herself for her while and finally released the energy through large movements of her arms, swinging from side to side, like a child. She finished with her fingertips reaching out and putting together the palms of her hands, piecefuly.
Slowly, she came back and opened her eyes. She felt relieved.
We watched the video together and she observed herself on the screen, as if she didn’t know what had happened the minutes before.
Gesture by gesture she tried to reconstruct her feelings. The arm, stretched out from her body, meant to release for example.
We discovered that many of her moves had been also formal reactions on Rixtas video. The orbiting was probably the most recognizable one.
Karen decided to continue working with the video by herself from that moment. She picked out the moments she considered as the strongest and cut them together. Similar to her work about dementia and meditation, she added some an explanation about the background of the performance. It wouldn’t work uncommented.
As mentioned earlier, the whole family works artistically, so Karen brother Sebastiaan Indesteege also created atmospheric sounds for the video.
What they practice is the opposite of not digging deep. They do dig deep, in themselves, in the matter of things.
I’m happy to add the result of this extraordinary day to the domino project. Because making connections between peoples minds, ideas and their ways of expression, was my essential intention with this trip. Javieras way of connecting with somebodies artwork, was new to me.
Call it telepathy, open mindedness or emotional sensibility, it is probably a unique art on its own.
We talked about those things for a long time and even if I could reconstruct all of the conversation, it would blow up the scale.
At the end of my journey, it felt like Karen and Javiera were spreading all the thoughts out on the table, and put them together again.
There in the garden, a little cosmic inner circle.